Monday, October 21, 2019

Exelon’s Legal Troubles Jolt Stock – Yahoo Finance

The company is part of a federal investigation targeting potential illegal dealings with Illinois state lawmakers in Springfield. The company’s stock dropped to a year-to-date low Thursday after the latest news in the ongoing legal saga.

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Source: Feds Focus On Clout Hires At ComEd, Leader Of Chicago’s City Club – WBEZ

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Feds looking at ComEd hiring politically connected lobbyists in exchange for favorable actions, consultant payments – Chicago Tribune

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Sen. Martin Sandoval’s daughter took in more than $52,000 during failed County Board bid from people and companies later named in federal corruption probe – Chicago Tribune

A Chicago Tribune review of the campaign fund created for Angie Sandoval’s unsuccessful Cook County Board candidacy shows that more than a dozen of her donors — individuals and companies — were named in federal search warrants executed in September at Sen. Sandoval’s Capitol office and the village halls in west suburban McCook and Lyons. Both towns are in Sandoval’s Senate district.

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llinois law makes teacher strikes easiest in Chicago out of 10 largest U.S. school districts – IL Policy

Teacher strikes are illegal in 8 of the top 10 largest school districts in the nation. Maybe that’s why the Chicago Teachers Union is on strike for the third time in seven years.

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Why Does Local Police And Fire Pension Consolidation Matter For Illinois? – Forbes

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George Will: No Will on Pension Reform – BuryPensions

"[T]he nation’s most ominous governance problem is the unsustainable trajectory of the entitlement state because of the unfunded promises that have been made regarding pensions and medical care. Everyone understands what must be done: a mixture of increases of taxes and reductions of promised benefits. Everyone also knows that there is insufficient political will for either part of this remedy."

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Editorial: Coal will live on, but we must embrace other energy sources – The Southern

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Survey Finds Sharp Divides On Whether Immigrants Help or Hurt Illinois – NPR IL

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Red-light camera backlash gains bipartisan momentum in Springfield – IL Policy

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Appeals panel: IL constitution doesn’t force cities to keep paying retiree health insurance, even if benefit paid to current workers – Cook County Record

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Report finds education funding overhaul effective, calls for increased state investment – Capitol News IL

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Illinois’ Congressional delegation warns tech companies: ‘moderate content or we will’ – Center Square

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Wealth adviser says moving out of Illinois could protect portfolios from next recession – Center Square

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Study finds higher teacher pay, smaller classrooms, more support staff, hindered by legacy costs – Center Square

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Pension fund managers seek $480k to hire lobbyists to kill pension consolidation plan – WCIA

Comment: Ridiculous waste of taxpayer money on self-serving. The local pension boards are simply trying to retain their gigs and boondoggles, instead of making the system more efficient.

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Is Consolidating the Assets of Illinois’ Public Pension Funds A Good Idea? – Amand Kass

Comment: Finally, she got one right.

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On the State of Illinois – New Geography

A DePaul economist: Although there is a perception by some that the state of Illinois is in decline, the reality might not be quite so bad, at least at the moment.

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Hey, Siri: What’s a class action? Apple targeted under IL biometrics law for Siri ‘voiceprints’ – Cook County Record

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Survey Finds Sharp Divides On Whether Immigrants Help or Hurt Illinois – NPR IL

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Report finds more jobs in Illinois than job seekers – Center Square

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Pension crisis forces firehouse closure, 9 firefighter layoffs in East St. Louis – IL Policy

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Peoria leaders to discuss raising taxes for public safety pensions – CIPround

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Jim Dey | Plan to pool police, fire pensions has shades of over-promising, under-delivering – News-Gazette

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Ralph Martire: A refreshingly unpolitical proposal on pensions – State Journal-Register

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Illinois House Republicans, Democrats unite to condemn Trump yanking troops from Syria – Chicago Sun-Times

In rare bipartisanship, Illinois Republicans and Democrats united on Wednesday to oppose President Donald Trump’s removal of troops from Syria, clearing the way for Turkish forces to attack Kurds who had been allied with the U.S.

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Mike Madigan’s troubles a boon to lawyers — legal bills exceed $1.5 million – Chicago Sun-Times

House Speaker Mike Madigan dipped into his campaign funds for more than $418,597 in legal fees over the past three months, bringing the total he has spent on lawyers since last year to more than $1.5 million.

The Southwest Side Democrat’s legal headaches heated up in February 2018 amid allegations made by political consultant Alaina Hampton that one of Madigan’s longtime political aides sent her barrages of unwanted texts.

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After 98 years in Chicago, Midland Metal Products moves to Hammond without ‘looking back’ -NWI Times

"We consider everybody who works for us, no matter nationality, race, sex or interest, to be family," she said. "I think that's what made...

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The U.S. States People Are Fleeing (And The Ones They Are Moving To) – Forbes

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Exelon Utilities CEO abruptly retires as utility is pulled into federal investigation of Sen. Martin Sandoval – Center Square

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Chicago public-private partnership to get $1.2 billion for infrastructure projects – Center Square

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Billionaire Gov. Pritzker made $5.5 million in taxable income last year – Chicago Sun-Times

Even so, Pritzker — as an heir to the Hyatt hotel fortune — is No. 250 on this year’s Forbes 400 list with a net worth of $3.4 billion

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More call for statewide elimination of photo-enforced traffic lights – Northwest Herald

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After report of potential conflicts, lawmaker requests formal inquiry of next Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Anne Burke – Center Square

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Illinois Strike Laws Prioritize Chicago Teachers Union Over Children – ZeroHedge

A republication of our Wirepoints article.

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Audit of Cahokia police pension fund finds less than professional operation – Madison St. Clair Record

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Illinois red-light cameras have collected more than $1B from drivers since 2008 – IL Policy

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Rivian expects vehicle sales by year-end, promises more hiring at Normal plant – Center Square

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s five-year economic projects manufacturing sector growth – Center Square

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Will Illinois lawmakers go further than its ‘strictest-in-the world’ regulations on ethylene oxide? Officials say yes – Center Square

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State school board to vote on legislative agenda – Capitol News IL

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Pension consolidation and real reform – Eric Allie Cartoon

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The 20 cities in the Midwest that Americans are escaping in droves – Business Insider

Ten are in Illinois, including Chicago metro area.

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Illinois drivers are paying more in taxes at the pump but buying less gas – News Channel 20

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Illinois’ automatic voter registration delays worry experts – Associated Press

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Jim Dey | Despite his words, Pritzker has yet to move on ‘Fair Map’ plan – News-Gazette

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From 650 into two: Illinois governor’s pension plan consolidation bid – The Bond Buyer

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How long can Illinois let these universities shrink? – Crain’s

More than half of Illinois' state schools are on the ropes enrollment-wise. Meanwhile, the cost of operating them is going up. Student enrollment at Illinois public universities is down again this year, but state budget outlays for the 11 schools is up.

It's not the paradox it seems. Intense competition for students today is forcing states to spend more on recruiting, financial aid and facilities. Illinois has been on the losing end of that battle, with a net outflow of college-bound students in a trend that shows no signs of letting up.

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Pension issue on tap in Springfield – Editorial – News-Gazette

"[P]roponents and opponents of [the recently proposed plan to consolidate local pension investing] need to be given an extended opportunity to explain why they have concluded this proposal does or does not offer an improvement in the present situation. Of particular importance to consider are the transition costs of merging separate police and fire pensions funds into two investment vehicles."

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Illinois’ public pensions are 81.2 percent government funded – IL Business Daily

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Sen. Sandoval resigns as Transportation Committee chairman; unredacted search warrant released – WGN

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How Illinois pension task force convinced firefighters to go along with merger plan – Rich Miller – Chicago Sun-Times

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Feds’ fishing trip in Sandoval waters points to big catch ahead – Chicago Sun-TImes

Red-light cameras, video gambling, road contracts, family businesses, real estate developments and the state’s largest public utility are all caught up in some way in Sandoval’s suspected mischief.

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Full search warrant suggests broad corruption probe of Sen. Martin Sandoval – Capitol News IL

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Springfield response to capital bill corruption: A new coat of paint – IL Policy

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Feds subpoena ComEd, Exelon in another pol probe – Crain’s

The companies now are being asked for records of communications with state Sen. Martin Sandoval, whose offices were recently raided. It's the second federal subpoena they've received in the past three months.

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Pritzker’s targeted economic plan is the right Rx for Illinois – Editorial – Crain’s

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How Well-Funded Are Government Employee Pension Plans In Your State? – The Beacon

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While Illinois sports betting stalls, Indiana reaps $813K in one month of tax revenue — money ‘we’re not getting’ – Chicago Sun-Times

With newly legalized sports betting stuck behind the starting gate in Illinois, sportsbooks across the border in Indiana have sprinted to a lucrative launch, Hoosier gambling regulators announced Thursday.

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker wants lawmakers to consolidate 649 police, fire funds into two funds during veto session – Center Square

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Illinois governor seeks major local pension fund consolidation – Reuters

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Report to Governor JB Pritzker Illinois Pension Consolidation Feasibility Task Force

See our own commentary on this new proposal linked here.

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Illinois Bright Idea: Put a Bunch of Underfunded Pension Plans In One Pile – Stump

An honest actuary's perspective.

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Bureaucrat Benefits Crowd Out Public Services – Independent Institute

Colorful vector comic of corrupt politicians, lying the people, to cover their crimes.

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Social Security increase for 2020 around $24 a month – CBS

Comment: And what will Illinois pensioners get? Most receive an automatic 3% per year, regardless of inflation, which effectively doubles their pension in about 24 years.

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker proposes consolidation of suburban and downstate police and firefighter pension funds – Chicago Tribune

Each police or fire department would maintain a separate account within the funds, and the money would be held in a pair of trusts separate from the state treasury. Assets and liabilities would not be shifted from one municipality’s plan to another. But the funds would be able to pool their assets for investment purposes and cut down on administrative fees currently paid separately by each local fund.

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Poll: High taxes are top reason Illinoisans want to leave state – IL Policy

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Richard Porter: Illinois must do better to serve the powerless – JournalStar

Restructuring Chicago and other Illinois municipalities is inevitable, so sooner rather than later is best for Illinoisans. It’s the right move for government workers worried about their pensions, too: the stronger the tax base, the better and more sustainable a new pension deal will be. Wall Street, on the other hand, benefits from a later bankruptcy filing because bond holders collect their premium interest rates longer, which mitigates their eventual losses. In our lifetimes, Illinois succumbed to government of the corrupt, by the machine, for the benefit of its political leaders and others in government. The Land of Lincoln can and must do better: a government that prioritizes debt service over serving the people, especially the powerless, is perverse and deserves to perish.

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Replay of anti-gerrymandering court win in N.C. not necessarily best option for IL reforms, policy advocate says – Cook County Record

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School districts across Illinois prepare for possible strikes – Center Square

As of Thursday, Bremen, Oak Forest, Tinley Park and Hillcrest (all of which are in District 228) along with Chicago, Murphysboro, DeKalb, and Blue Ridge face a walkout by teachers in the coming weeks if they can’t reach deals.

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State Senate’s top two Dems oppose booting Sandoval from committee post — but others say it’s time – Chicago Sun-Times

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, left; Illinois Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford, right. Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford, D-Maywood, on Wednesday joined Senate President John Cullerton in taking a wait-and-see attitude on Sandoval, whose home and Senate offices have been searched by federal agents.

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Progressive income tax uncertainty likely to put brakes on Illinois’ weak housing recovery – IL Policy

Illinois’ housing price growth remains well below the national average because of lagging demand, caused in large part by tax policies that make people hesitant to spend.

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Illinois cannabis group expects only minor changes to state’s recreational cannabis program during veto session – Center Square

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Pritzker Administration Release: A Plan to Revitalize the Illinois Economy and Build the Workplace of the Future

Comment: Nothing on the structural remedies we discuss here. Mostly a compilation of economic development plans already known.

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Pension and OPEB costs weigh on government balance sheets – Accounting Today

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Illinois Governor Signs Tax Law to Attract New IT Investment – Government Technology

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Survey Shows Significant Support For Graduated Income Tax – NPR IL

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The Justice & The Alderman: The Ethical Conundrum Of A Longtime Illinois Power Couple – WBEZ

Since Justice Burke joined the Supreme Court in 2006, a WBEZ analysis has identified 10 cases in which she participated at the same time her husband’s firm was being paid by parties in those cases to cut their property tax burdens. Those entities included banks, a big Chicago landlord, a suburban shopping mall, a prominent downtown hospital and ComEd.

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Land Deal Tied to Illinois Senate President Cullerton Under Scrutiny – WTTW

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As Chicago Teachers Threaten to Walk Out, New Report Suggests a ‘Hidden Driver’ Behind Rash of Strikes: Skyrocketing Pension and Health Costs – The74

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Farmers cheer Trump biofuel concessions – 1IL

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Illinois property tax relief begins by culling nearly 7,000 local government units – IL Policy

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State military leaders call obesity rates a national security threat – Capitol News IL

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker doesn’t anticipate broad energy plan coming together during fall session – Center Square

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4 reasons defined benefit plans are nearly dead – USA Today

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Does the Graduated Income Tax Plan Help Local Governments? – Civic Federation

Comment: "The enacted tax plan has a $100 million increase for local governments." For a little context, that's about three-tenths of one percent of what local governments collect in property taxes, so the answer is clearly No.

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Illinois’ data center tax incentive called ‘corporate welfare’ as governor touts plan – Capitol News IL

A special carve out for data centers is bad policy, Competitive Enterprise Institute Senior Fellow Ryan Young.

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Financial report tough on state – Editorial – News-Gazeette

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UIS/NPR Illinois survey finds more voters feel the state is headed in the right direction overall – UIS

However, the survey finds the number of respondents who have considering moving out of the state in the previous 12 months has risen to slightly more than six in ten (61%) compared to 53% or respondents a year ago

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How Teacher Pensions Exacerbate Inequities in Rural and Urban School Districts – TeacherPensions.Org

"[T]his problem is particularly pronounced in rural and urban school districts. However, the reasons for the pay disparities differ between rural and urban districts. Rural districts have lower average salaries and thus less valuable pensions. Urban districts offer salaries comparable with the suburbs, but have a greater share of educators who do not qualify for benefits in the system, and a greater share of educators with fewer years of experience overall, which also results in lower pension benefits."

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In Transit: Senator under scrutiny by feds exerted muscle on tollway’s contract with campaign donor – Daily Herald

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Illinois drivers paid $100 million more in gas taxes in first month after state gas tax hike – Center Square

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llinois higher education in disarray; can it be saved? – JournalStandard

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Kankakee misses mark on pensions – Daily Journal

A story being repeated in dozens of towns and cities across Illinois.

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World’s Best-Run Pension Funds Say It’s Time to Start Worrying – Bloomberg

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Would-be legal bettors chime in on Illinois sports betting launch: ‘Get on it already’ – Chicago Sun-Times

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Ralph Martire: Pension side of state’s financial picture still waiting for reform – Daily Herald

Comment: Martire's primary point is that "the state must both reform its tax policy as championed by the governor, and reamortize its pension debt....

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Escape Illinois: Get The Hell Out Now, We Are – MishTalk

"We are out of here. Can't take it anymore... Firm plans in place to move to Southern Utah in 2020."

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Decatur’s concentrated poverty rate is the highest in Illinois – Center Square

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Illinois earns grade of C+ for manufacturing health – IL Business Daily

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John Kass: Who’s driving that big federal bus that’s frightening Illinois politicians? His name is Rico. – Chicago Tribune

The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, aka RICO, made law in 1970, is a powerful federal tool designed to take down the bosses of a vast political enterprise, not just the lowly soldiers.
It allows prosecutors to go back years, stitching a fabric of seemingly unrelated crimes, and wrap up the boss.

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Chicago Impounded This Grandmother’s Car For a Pot Offense She Didn’t Commit. Now She Owes $6,000 – Reason

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Illinois’ governor touts economic progress after first nine months – Center Square

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‘Why Is There Nothing Left?’ Pension Funds Failing At Catholic Hospitals – NPR IL

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S&P report shows states preparing for rainy days as Illinois falls further behind – Center Square

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Teams want protection in exchange for $10 million vig required to launch sports betting at arenas – Chicago Sun-Times

https://chicago.suntimes.com/2019/10/2/20895692/sports-betting-chicago-illinois-stadiums-wrigley-soldier-field-united-center

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Indiana beats Illinois in race to offer online sports betting – Center Square

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CTU demands are an insult to average Chicago taxpayers – IL Policy

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Illinois pension conference cost taxpayers at least $8 million – WGN

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How did your stock portfolio do today, Illinois taxpayers? – Truth in Accounting

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Illinois sponsor of minimum wage bill looks to aid ‘gig economy’ workers, too – Crain’s

State Rep. Will Guzzardi is preparing a California-style bill that would require firms like Uber to treat staffers as employees and not independent contractors, with pay and benefits to match.

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Former state rep Lou Lang has a piece of Danville casino – ABC 20

Comment: Surprise, surprise. Cook County County Democrat Lang was a long-time supporter of expanded gambling.

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Planned Parenthood has been building a secret abortion “mega-clinic” in Illinois – CBS News

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Jim Dey – Former Madigan staffer — futilely — denies misconduct – News-Gazette

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WBEZ Sues Illinois Senate For Documents In FBI Probe Of Sen. Sandoval – WBEZ

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Who Will Pay To Educate Profoundly Disabled Children? – NPR IL

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Illinois Senate President Withholds Key Details Of Raid On State Senator – WBEZ

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Watchdog Releases Sexual Harassment Report – WTTW

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Illinois Fiscal Health – Eric Allie Cartoon

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Nearly 12K Illinois educators have stopped paying a teachers union – IL Policy

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Pritzker: State Sen. Sandoval should quit top committee post — or get the boot – Chicago Sun-Times

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Inspector General says former employees of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan should never work for the state again – Center Square

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This is the least tax-friendly state in America — and California doesn’t even crack the top 10 – MarketWatch

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The 10 Least Tax-Friendly States in the U.S. – Kiplinger

Illinois No. 1.

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Illinois Senate President Cullerton Withholds Key Details Of Federal Raid On State Sen. Martin Sandoval – WBEZ

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton on Tuesday released a federal search warrant related to last week’s FBI raid of Democratic state Sen. Martin Sandoval’s legislative offices, but virtually every key detail about what agents seized from Sandoval’s statehouse office was blacked out.

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Architect of Illinois gas tax hike accused of ‘racketeering conspiracy – IL Policy

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Appeals court upholds Chicago’s 9% tax on Netflix, other streaming services – Cook County Record

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5,000 Students Use Aid Meant to Keep Illinois College Students In State – WBEZ

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Money matters: How school funding inequities affect students, taxpayers – Capitol News IL

Comment: But the key portion is this: "Illinois is now in its third year under the Evidence-Based Funding system and the state has added hundreds of millions of dollars in additional school funding in the past two years. But it won’t be known for another two years how much of an impact that money has on the tax inequities and achievement disparities that were evident in 2017-2018." [Emphasis added.] It will be interesting to see if it makes any difference.

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S&P: Coal cities in southern Illinois, elsewhere face ‘long-term credit challenges’ – Center Square

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New Illinois ‘social equity’ map highlights areas hit hardest by drug war, where businesses could qualify for taxpayer-backed cannabis loans – Center Square

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Foxconn And The U of I Partner On $100 Million Smart Tech Research Center – NPR IL

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Feds sought records involving IDOT employees, evidence of bribery in search of Sen. Sandoval’s office – Sun-Times

FBI agents were looking for evidence of kickbacks in exchange for official actions as well as information related to five Illinois Department of Transportation employees and several lobbyists when they raided the Springfield office of State Sen. Martin Sandoval last week, records show.

Items named in a heavily redacted search warrant released Tuesday include those related to a highway company, a construction company, “any business owned and controlled by Martin Sandoval,” several municipalities and a political organization, among other entities.

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Illinois bill would ban government employees from traveling to pro-life states – Washington Examiner

Didech also cited the limits on abortion access as potentially dangerous to traveling government employees. "As a member of the Legislature, I have the responsibility to protect our state employees," he said of the measure.

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Analysis: New Jersey, New Hampshire, Illinois have highest property tax rates – Center Square

Another study confirms Illinois is over twice the national median rate.

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U of I Flash Index makes unexpected increase in September – U of I

The Flash Index is a weighted average of Illinois growth rates in corporate earnings, consumer spending and personal income as estimated from receipts for corporate income, personal income and retail sales taxes.

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State says Jacksonville, others ‘disproportionately impacted’ by marijuana enforcement – JournalCourier

“As Illinois continues its path toward putting equity at the forefront of the state’s new adult-use cannabis expansion, it’s important to create opportunities in communities that have been hardest hit by the war on marijuana,” Pritzker said. “Not only will social equity applicants receive points on their applications, but many applicants will also get grants, technical assistance, low-interest loans and fee reductions and waivers.”

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How a California company is buying up marijuana grow centers in Illinois — without a cultivation license – Chicago Sun-Times

Three of the first seven recreational growing facilities licensed by the state will soon be owned by a publicly traded real estate investor with hundreds of millions in assets.

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Teachers Want Higher Pay, but Pensions Swallow Up the Money – Wall Street Journal

In most places education spending is rising. It isn’t showing up in teachers’ paychecks because so much of it gets diverted to pay for expensive retirement benefits for former teachers. Politicians’ overly generous past promises, sometimes made at the behest of teachers unions, are now coming back to bite the education sector.
The Chicago Public Schools have a pension shortfall of $11 billion. Retirement costs devour more than 25% of the money the system receives from the state. Such costly benefits constrain it and other school systems from offering higher salaries to teachers, increasing support staff, and reducing class sizes.

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State Border Splits Neighbors Into Medicaid Haves And Have-Nots – NPR

Highlighting Illinois vs. Missouri: State borders have become arbitrary dividing lines between Medicaid's haves and have-nots, with Americans in similar financial straits facing vastly different health care fortunes. This affects everything from whether diseases are caught early to whether people can stay well enough to work.

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Puerto Rico releases new plan to cut debt by 33 percent – The Hill

"If the plan is passed and ends up having the desired consequences, it could become a model for states like Illinois that have considerable debt of their own."

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Who Will Pay To Educate Profoundly Disabled Children? – NPR IL

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Illinois releases ‘Disproportionately Impacted Areas’ map for cannabis dispensary applicants – A.P.

State officials have identified areas of Illinois where applicants to grow and sell marijuana legally would get preference under the law’s social equity provision.

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A federal bill to allow cannabis companies access to banks could lower Illinois revenue projections, analyst says – Center Square

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After California, Illinois lawmakers rush to file legislation allowing college athletes to be paid – Center Square

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llinois legislator introduces bill to let college athletes be paid, saying he wants to stay competitive with California – Chicago Tribune

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Billions at stake as Wisconsin dicusses legalizing marijuana – Associated Press

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Before Illinois spends $45 billion on highways and bridges, Sandoval should hit the road – Editorial – Chicago Sun-Times

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Avoiding Government Meltdown:Are There Effective Legal Solutions toUnaffordable Pension Liabilities? – Presented at the Harvard UniversityKennedy School of Government

PowerPoint presentation linked here.

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Avoiding Government Meltdown:Are There Effective Legal Solutions toUnaffordable Pension Liabilities? – Presented at the Harvard UniversityKennedy School of Government

A comprehensive look at the Contract Clause and other legal issues.

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$129 Billion Puerto Rico Bankruptcy Plan Could Be Model for States – New York Times

See our own article on this NYT story and more on the topic linked here.

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Fallout from the ‘Illinois Exodus’: Sinking home values. Attention, Gov. Pritzker and Mayor Lightfoot. – Editorial – Chicago Tribune

"And now the pension crisis, in Springfield and locally, is spinning off other problems. The Illinois Exodus is more than a population issue. It is pillaging many Illinoisans’ greatest asset: the value of their homes."

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States of Economic Comparison – Editorial – Wall Street Journal

Incomes overall in America are growing smartly, but some states and regions are doing better than others.
One not so surprising exception is Illinois where growth was revised down 1.2%. Its neighbors Indiana (1.5%), Michigan (2.5%) and Wisconsin (2.6%) experienced modest upward revisions. Illinois incomes have grown faster over the last year (3.7%) than during the late Obama years amid an uptick in manufacturing, but the state still lags in the Great Lakes region. Manufacturing earnings in Illinois have increased 4% over the last four quarters, but workers and businesses have been fleeing. Last year 80% of Illinois cities lost population, according to the Illinois Policy Institute. Swelling worker pension obligations are driving up property taxes, and some towns are imposing special fees to pay for public-safety pensions. Springfeld is still a wholly owned subsidiary of the government-worker unions.

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Goodbye Illinois – The Song

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Bill would discourage state employees from traveling to anti-abortion states for work – Capitol News IL

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University of Illinois expert says gambling will cost state more than it gains – Center Square

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US senator Richard J Durbin under attack for mocking Indians – Hindustan Times

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John Kass: When that big Federal Bus pulls up, will Illinois politicians know what to do? – Chicago Tribune

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Introducing GovBook, a fast and easy way to contact Illinois officials – Chicago Reporter

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Here’s the salary of every state representative in the United States – Business Insider

Illinois is No. 5 at $67,836/year.

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After federal investigators raid state lawmaker’s offices, Republican calls for FBI to release details on kickback allegations – Center Square

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Poverty Dip Not Seen In Illinois But It Happens Nationally – NPR IL

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Sources: Feds Also Raided Contractor With Close Ties to Sen. Sandoval – WBEZ

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Raoul Advances Criminal Probe Into Deadly Quincy Legionnaires’ Outbreaks – WBEZ

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Illinois’s public pensions are 80.4% government funded – IL Business Daily

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Peotone airport gains in new state budget, but history shows taxpayers lose – IL Policy

Funding for a third Chicagoland airport was included in the latest state budget. The controversial plan brings a risk for more corruption and overspending that will cost taxpayers millions.

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Local political leaders act as if mismanagement just doesn’t matter. Could there be lessons here for Chicago? – Center Square

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DuPage judge yanked from bench for claims of harassment, retaliation and lying to police – Chicago Sun-Times

A bullet hole through my apartment wall? Oh, that, just something made by a screwdriver. No, wait, by son did it. Shot gun by accident.

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Commentary: Bankruptcy looms for Chicago if there’s no pension fix – Chicago Tribune

The Chicago skyline from West Fulton Market on Sept. 25, 2019. Comment: A must-read by Richard Porter, a lawyer in Chicago and member of the Republican National Committee:
"Chicago is in a hole that tax hikes only deepen; the only way out of Chicago’s death spiral is debt reduction... We need financial first aid in Illinois now. Waiting and wishing as prosperity bleeds away is cruel and immoral. Chicago needs to restructure and reduce debt now. Give Chicago the benefit of a bankruptcy we have already paid for."
 

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Was corruption at the heart of Illinois’ gas tax hike? – IL Policy

Capital bills are a feeding frenzy for special interests. And Sandoval held the keys to the kitchen. “Governor signs Sandoval’s $45 billion infrastructure improvement package,” boasts a June press release from the state senator’s website. Might the feds want to have a word about some of those projects? According to the Chicago Tribune, authorities are looking into allegations Sandoval used his public office to steer business in exchange for private kickbacks.

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Illinois farmers worry impeachment talk will stall trade deals – Center Square

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Chicago Teachers Are Ready To Strike – NPR

The Chicago Teachers Union voted in overwhelming numbers to authorize a strike, union officials announced late Thursday. The union is planning to set a strike date next Wednesday. Teachers likely will walk out in mid-October if no deal is reached by then.

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Illinois reports job gains, lower unemployment – Capitol News IL

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker taps state Sen. Toi Hutchinson to oversee pot rollout – Chicago Tribune

Sen. Toi Hutchinson, center left, and Sen. Heather Steans, celebrate in Springfield on May 29, 2019 after the Senate passed their bill to legalize marijuana.

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Visualizing the Financial State of the States – Stump

Data visualization by an actuary.

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Illinois Cities Getting Crushed By Pension Costs – Just Look At Peoria! – ZeroHedge

A republication of our Wirepoints article.

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Illinois leaving underwriting pool in place — for now – The Bond Buyer

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Two Illinois Democratic congressman not explicit on impeachment – Center Square

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Illinois residents have the fifth-highest credit card debt in the nation – Center Square

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Illinois’ Dick Durbin Among Democrats Who Asked Ukraine To Investigate Trump In 2018 – The Federalist

While Democrats rush toward impeachment over an anonymous whistleblower complaint accusing President Donald Trump of requesting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, many have ignored the fact that last year, Senate Democrats wrote to Ukraine’s prosecutor general asking Ukrainian officials to investigate Trump.

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Appellate arguments: Cook County wants transportation funding rules reduced to ‘mere suggestion’ – Cook County Record

The road builders accused Cook County’s attorneys of attempting to “rewrite” the transportation funding amendment, “so that its restrictions and prohibitions are reduced to a mere suggestion that people should follow statutes.”

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Chicago and Illinois pension problems underscored in latest reports – The Bond Buyer

New reports from rating agencies shine unwelcome light on Chicago's and Illinois’ “outlier” status on pension debts and the growing risks of heat-related climate change on some local Illinois governments.

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Taiwan commits to $2.2B ag buy – 1IL

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CTU’s mayoral candidate lost, and now it won’t deal with the winner – IL Policy

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Property tax task force – Eric Allie Cartoon

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Partisan split evident in Illinois congressional reaction – The Courier

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Federal agents raid Illinois state Sen. Martin Sandoval’s office in Springfield – Center Square

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Taiwan makes $2.2 billion commitment to Illinois farmers – WTVO

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There’s a lot of talk about an ‘Illinois exodus.’ We took a closer look at the reality behind the chatter. – Chicago Tribune

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Illinois’ $241B pension debt still worst in nation despite record income tax hike – IL Policy

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Housing Markets Turning Ugly In 2019 – Forbes

Illinois is home to nine housing markets out of the study’s 50 that are turning ugly. One of the biggest downsides to homeownership in Illinois is the state’s high property taxes. In some areas of Illinois, property tax rates rise above 3%. Peoria and Aurora are among the ten worst.

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Federal agents raid Springfield, Cicero offices of Illinois Sen. Martin Sandoval, says source – Chicago Tribune

Federal agents on Tuesday raided the Springfield and Cicero offices of longtime Democratic state Sen. Martin Sandoval as part of an ongoing criminal investigation, according to a source. The FBI led the raids at Sandoval’s office in the state capitol as well as his regional offices in the 5800 block of West 35th Street in Cicero, the source said. The exact nature of the investigation was not disclosed.

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Financial State of the States 2019 – Truth in Accounting

With an 'F' grade and labeled a "sinkhole state," Illinois ranks second from last.

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State Pension Aid Disproportionately Benefits Wealthy Communities – TeacherPensions.org

A 2017 analysis of Illinois pension spending data found that the state contributes $566 more per student in the wealthiest schools than in the poorest. Wirepoints, too, published a special report on the same issue, linked here.

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Illinois cities turn their backs on pot as legalization approaches – Politico

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More Pension Problems – Champaign News-Gazette

There were two more pension setbacks last week, this time associated with local communities’ often underfunded fire and police pensions. Slowly, the noose is tightening around the necks of taxpayers and public officials statewide, proving once again that ignoring pension woes won’t cause them to go away but, instead, to get worse.

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Enrollment Exodus: Why So Many Chinese Students Choose That ‘Cornfield’ School In Illinois – NPR IL

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Energy policy could take center stage during veto session with coal plant closures looming – Center Square

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Illinois AG Kwame Raoul backs flavored vape ban as lawmakers, industry reps clash over issue – Chicago Tribune

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Illinois’s Risk to Bond Buyers Is Getting Hotter – Literally – Bloomberg

Wall Street has a number of reasons to be concerned about the credit quality of Illinois, the lowest-rated U.S. state: mounting pension obligations, billions of dollars in unpaid bills and a shrinking population. Now investors can add climate change to that list.

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City of Peoria mulls $90K call center contract to field pension fee questions – CIProud

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Group wants Illinois to divert $2.2M for East St. Louis firefighter pensions – The Telegraph

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Commentary: Be wary of ‘painless’ reform promises – JournalCourier

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Should unions refund collected fees that were later declared unconstitutional? Appeals court to decide – Cook County Record

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled it is unconstitutional to require non-union state workers in Illinois to pay "fair share" fees to a union, but a Chicago federal appeals panel is considering whether a union must refund millions of dollars in fees already collected.

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Illinois’ financially distressed municipal laws need ‘teeth’ before next downturn, expert says – Center Square

Comment: The distressed municipal laws are a waste of time for truly distressed towns and cities. Only debt reduction or reorganization will help them, and only bankruptcy law has that power.

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Frankfort non-profit raises funds to pay off mortgages for two fallen Illinois officers – IL Review

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East St. Louis pensioners paid $2.4 million into fund, have collected $36 million – Metro East Sun

East St. Louis was recently subject to a filing to intercept state money owed to it, to be diverted to its pension, which we wrote about here.

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Illinois automobile dealers will try to repeal looming trade-in tax with higher taxes on private sales – Center Square

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Pritzker: Broke. Please help me raise taxes. – Eric Allie Cartoon

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Third Illinois city faces seizure of state funds for pensions – Center Square

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Did Illinois Make The Right Move on Gambling Expansion? Expert Says It’s Complicated – NPR IL

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Bankrupt Illinois Cities Forced To Cut Services To Fund Pensions – ZeroHedge

A republication of our Wirepoints article.

Illinois AG joins lawsuit against federal limits to California’s regulatory powers – Capitol News IL

California’s ability to regulate the pollution limits of cars and light trucks should not be limited by the federal government, Illinois’ top lawyer argued in a joint court filing Friday, because those standards positively impact the health of his constituents. Attorney General Kwame Raoul joined a group of 22 other states, the District of Columbia and two cities in suing the federal government after it moved Thursday to revoke the most populous state’s ability to set stricter emission specifications than those required by President Donald Trump’s Administration. The lawsuit is testing the waters for how federal and state powers will be weighed when setting environmental policies to combat climate change.

Gerrymandering is voter suppression. Period. – Opinion – Crain’s

"Our elections are rigged and rotten. More of us need to wake up to that realization. The fix is put in when politicians from one party or the other draw political districts to their own party's advantage after each census, which will happen next in 2021. In Illinois, both Republicans and Democrats have done the rigging over the decades. It's wrong every time."

Peoria property owners to be billed public safety pension fees – CIProud

All Peoria property owners will receive another bill in October. The city needs $1.2 million by the end of the year to fund police and firefighter pensions.

Be Prepared – Editorial – News-Gazette

Democrats have been speculating in recent weeks about the possibility of the economy falling back from recovery into recession and its adverse impact on President Donald Trump’s re-election bid in 2020. But Democrats, at least those in Illinois, might want to reconsider what they wish for because a deteriorating economy would have a devastating impact on a financially distressed state like Illinois. For starters, a recession would reduce revenue at all levels of government.